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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

View Poll Results: What Are Your Helmet Wearing Habits?
I've never worn a bike helmet 52 10.40%
I used to wear a helmet, but have stopped 24 4.80%
I've always worn a helmet 208 41.60%
I didn't wear a helmet, but now do 126 25.20%
I sometimes wear a helmet depending on the conditions 90 18.00%
Voters: 500. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-08-16, 11:43 AM   #2501
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Does it matter though that it cracked, as long as the foam was still being crushed? In other words, did the foam that broke up absorb less impact than it would have if it hadn't have cracked?
Absent a manufacturing defect, a helmet will crush then crack. Even after it has cracked, it can still absorb more energy, just not as efficiently as before the crack. Some manufacturers are putting internal reinforcement to help delay cracking and to increase the stability of the helmet when there is cracking.

But yes, there is a website out there publishing unreviewed papers, one of which claims, with no evidence, that a cracked helmet is a fail and only gave "superficial protection." Other websites focus on pizza....

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Last edited by mr_bill; 12-08-16 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 12-12-16, 05:07 PM   #2502
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Absent a manufacturing defect, a helmet will crush then crack. Even after it has cracked, it can still absorb more energy, just not as efficiently as before the crack. Some manufacturers are putting internal reinforcement to help delay cracking and to increase the stability of the helmet when there is cracking.

But yes, there is a website out there publishing unreviewed papers, one of which claims, with no evidence, that a cracked helmet is a fail and only gave "superficial protection." Other websites focus on pizza....

-mr. bill
I am asking @mrogers because he "works in research and development for a plastics foam molding manufacturer" and would likely have an educated opinion about it. Random website claims aren't really in my sphere of interest.
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Old 12-13-16, 08:50 AM   #2503
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My understanding is that cracking of a helmet represents having exceeded the level of force it was designed to mitigate. In a typical scenario, the liner will work as designed and deform/crush to mitigate forces of the crash being transmitted to the skull, but once that crush limit is reached, it may crack. In outlier cases, the helmet may crack due to manufacturing defect, or without having first crushed due to some aspect of the impact, and may in fact have been less effective.

Just because a helmet cracked during a crash with head impact does not mean it failed to mitigate some injury. But further examination is warranted to see if it worked as designed, if there was also concurrent crush deformation of the foam liner, which might indicate that some force was dissipated before being transmitted to the skull, and which might indicate that some injury was mitigated by the helmet, before it reached performance limits and cracked.
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Old 12-13-16, 09:15 AM   #2504
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My understanding is that cracking of a helmet represents having exceeded the level of force it was designed to mitigate. In a typical scenario, the liner will work as designed and deform/crush to mitigate forces of the crash being transmitted to the skull, but once that crush limit is reached, it may crack. In outlier cases, the helmet may crack due to manufacturing defect, or without having first crushed due to some aspect of the impact, and may in fact have been less effective.

Just because a helmet cracked during a crash with head impact does not mean it failed to mitigate some injury. But further examination is warranted to see if it worked as designed, if there was also concurrent crush deformation of the foam liner, which might indicate that some force was dissipated before being transmitted to the skull, and which might indicate that some injury was mitigated by the helmet, before it reached performance limits and cracked.
I have seen it explained the other way also: as long as none of the foam is compressed more than the crush limit, and the head didn't hit the ground of course, then you have not lost much if any of the impact resistance no matter how many cracks there were.

Well going back to first principles, we know that impact absorbed is directly proportional to the amount of compression. If the EPS foam is broken into two pieces, I can see that the two pieces might be crushed by different amounts, which would mean that the head had experienced higher impact on one area and lower on another. Particularly where the crack is. But that's just a "maybe", the question is in practice is that really a factor at all? Just as plausibly, the different pieces of foam still absorb the same amount of impact as they would have without the crack and it's distributed the same across the skull surface.

I have an "unknown" on this question, but I'm leaning towards the latter. I think a bag of foam peanuts would have as much effect as a solid piece, as long as there was the same amount of the same kind of foam and the bag kept them from spreading out.
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Old 12-13-16, 09:22 AM   #2505
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I have seen it explained the other way also...
I think this is another way of explaining the same thing, or another take on the same basic principle, and agree.

Basically: just because a helmet cracked does not mean that it did not work, as designed. There's a chance it did not, but without further examination, without more information about the scenario and the post-crash helmet, cracking alone does not indicate that a helmet was not effective in mitigating injury.
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Old 01-20-17, 09:53 AM   #2506
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Helmet Schmelmet

In just a few hours, they are at 10% of Helmet Thread 2. This may be the editorial that broke the Gothamist comment section.

-mr. bill
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Old 01-21-17, 04:01 AM   #2507
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Helmet Schmelmet

In just a few hours, they are at 10% of Helmet Thread 2. This may be the editorial that broke the Gothamist comment section.

-mr. bill
One of BSNYC's better efforts.

scott s.
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Old 02-07-17, 05:47 PM   #2508
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Good Article On Bicycle Helmets In Momentum Magazine

I wear a helmet all the time and I insist that others who ride with me wear them, too. However, this article is worth a read...

https://momentummag.com/bicycle-helm...ing-us-back-2/
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Old 02-07-17, 06:15 PM   #2509
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Good read. Thanks for posting.

This is an interesting quote:

A 2012 survey in Norway found that people who rode bicycles at higher speeds were more likely to be helmeted (as well as using other racing gear such as spandex, goggles, clip-in shoes, a superlight bicycle) and more likely to be involved in crashes. Slower bicyclists were not as accident-prone and because they perceived bicycling to be less risky, they were not as likely to wear helmets.

If I were to go somewhere without wearing spandex, clipless pedals, or a 'superlight' bike, I'd probably go without a helmet as well. But because I'd like to get to work and back home in the least amount of time possible I like to ride as fast as I can. So it's not that the helmet makes me want to take more risks by riding faster; it's the other way around--I know I'll be riding faster and therefore taking more risks, that's why I wear a helmet.
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Old 02-07-17, 06:16 PM   #2510
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I would ride my bike no differently if I were wearing a helmet or not. However, should I fall, I'm going to do better with a helmet if I hit my head than I would otherwise. Given that age 25 is a long way (best brain plasticity) in the rear view mirror for me, 100% recovery from a moderate TBI would be problematic so I'm wearing a helmet and promoting them heavily. "Perception" is not going to make my brain better.

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Old 02-07-17, 07:05 PM   #2511
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In before the move to A&S.

Seriously though, having been involved in multiple crashes that involved landing on my head, you won't get me to give up my helmet. I do think the article makes a good point about city biking though. When a bicycle is used for city transportation, low speeds are significantly more acceptable than for, say, a suburban commute of 10+ miles each way. I think if people are riding sensibly around the city at a slow speed it's probably OK not to have a helmet.

Of course, the premise that helmets are holding back U.S. cycling transportation share is completely contrary to the reality of U.S. transportation characteristics. Helmet use might hold back the rate at which people take 3-5 mile trips in good weather over flat terrain, but most people aren't making that sort of trip. People traveling 10+ miles to their destination aren't likely to just hop on a bike and go, making the whole trip at low speed, and arriving at their destination fresh and presentable.
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Old 02-07-17, 08:58 PM   #2512
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In before the move to A&S.

Seriously though, having been involved in multiple crashes that involved landing on my head, you won't get me to give up my helmet. I do think the article makes a good point about city biking though. When a bicycle is used for city transportation, low speeds are significantly more acceptable than for, say, a suburban commute of 10+ miles each way. I think if people are riding sensibly around the city at a slow speed it's probably OK not to have a helmet.

Of course, the premise that helmets are holding back U.S. cycling transportation share is completely contrary to the reality of U.S. transportation characteristics. Helmet use might hold back the rate at which people take 3-5 mile trips in good weather over flat terrain, but most people aren't making that sort of trip. People traveling 10+ miles to their destination aren't likely to just hop on a bike and go, making the whole trip at low speed, and arriving at their destination fresh and presentable.
I agree.

It's also more about the infrastructure. In Minneapolis, as they have added bike lanes, routes and bike "expressways", the number of commuters has gone up quickly. Richard Schwinn (Gunnar, Waterford CEO) traces bike sales and usages directly to infrastructure. I don't think helmets have anything to do with it. No one thinks, for example, that seat belt usage limits the use of cars. At some point, it becomes kind of automatic to put on your seatbelt. I think we are pretty much there or have it in sight for cycling and helmets.

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Old 02-07-17, 09:12 PM   #2513
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I wear a helmet all the time and I insist that others who ride with me wear them, too. However, this article is worth a read...

https://momentummag.com/bicycle-helm...ing-us-back-2/
That article was so anti-helmet it was ridiculous. The writer could not even see his own bias so there is no use in holding a debate.
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Old 02-07-17, 09:40 PM   #2514
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Old 02-08-17, 05:56 AM   #2515
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In before the move to A&S.

Seriously though, having been involved in multiple crashes that involved landing on my head, you won't get me to give up my helmet. I do think the article makes a good point about city biking though. When a bicycle is used for city transportation, low speeds are significantly more acceptable than for, say, a suburban commute of 10+ miles each way. I think if people are riding sensibly around the city at a slow speed it's probably OK not to have a helmet.

Of course, the premise that helmets are holding back U.S. cycling transportation share is completely contrary to the reality of U.S. transportation characteristics. Helmet use might hold back the rate at which people take 3-5 mile trips in good weather over flat terrain, but most people aren't making that sort of trip. People traveling 10+ miles to their destination aren't likely to just hop on a bike and go, making the whole trip at low speed, and arriving at their destination fresh and presentable.
Yeah, good points. For myself, there are times when I will hop on the local bike path without a helmet, knowing I'm not going to be riding more than about 7mph and that I won't come into contact with any motor vehicles along the way. But on the road, I can't imagine being without one.

If my route to work here in NY were as isolated from traffic as bike lanes are in some international cities, I might consider going helmetless. But for now, as much as I agree with the writer's point that helmets keep lots of people from riding, I'm keeping my nutshell in place.
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Old 02-14-17, 04:23 AM   #2516
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I wear a helmet all the time and I insist that others who ride with me wear them, too. However, this article is worth a read...

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Yeah, good points. For myself, there are times when I will hop on the local bike path without a helmet, knowing I'm not going to be riding more than about 7mph and that I won't come into contact with any motor vehicles along the way. But on the road, I can't imagine being without one.
So not all the time

I don't wear a helmet on my commute, I have fallen off my bike about once every 3000 miles or so and never hit my head. A helmet may mitigate some serious injuries, but for my commute of 3 miles I can live with the risk. If I was that worried about injuries I would have to wear one all the time + a bullet proof vest. Maybe if I was head down in a peloton or MTBing down a rocky path I would reconsider my position.
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Old 02-14-17, 05:51 AM   #2517
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So not all the time
Hah, good catch! But truthfully, those helmetless rides are very, very rare.

I really want to be talked out of the helmet thing, and this article made some good observations. But I don't think I'm quite sold on going au natural yet.
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Old 02-14-17, 07:54 AM   #2518
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Just look at the poll. All but about 15% wear helmets all or most of the time. IMO that is a good thing. Even if they only prevent road rash to the head, that is a good thing.
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Old 02-14-17, 08:17 AM   #2519
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Hah, good catch! But truthfully, those helmetless rides are very, very rare.

I really want to be talked out of the helmet thing, and this article made some good observations. But I don't think I'm quite sold on going au natural yet.
For what it's worth, I do sometimes ride my 8 mile suburban commute without a helmet. It doesn't really correlate with going as fast as I can versus just get on the bike and arrive fresh - I simply choose not to wear a helmet that day. My chances of a head injury are higher those days, but the chances are so slight in the first place that it's not a concern.

I don't want to become emotionally vested in it either way so I allow myself the deliberate choice. The only thing I feel strongly about in this issue is in opposing governments and other groups from taking that choice away.
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Old 02-14-17, 09:05 AM   #2520
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
In before the move to A&S.

Seriously though, having been involved in multiple crashes that involved landing on my head, you won't get me to give up my helmet. I do think the article makes a good point about city biking though. When a bicycle is used for city transportation, low speeds are significantly more acceptable than for, say, a suburban commute of 10+ miles each way. I think if people are riding sensibly around the city at a slow speed it's probably OK not to have a helmet.

Of course, the premise that helmets are holding back U.S. cycling transportation share is completely contrary to the reality of U.S. transportation characteristics. Helmet use might hold back the rate at which people take 3-5 mile trips in good weather over flat terrain, but most people aren't making that sort of trip. People traveling 10+ miles to their destination aren't likely to just hop on a bike and go, making the whole trip at low speed, and arriving at their destination fresh and presentable.
Isn't it the other way around? If I had the idea that I needed a helmet for a trip, whether it's more or less than 5 miles, I wouldn't take the bike at all. Of course a helmet is unfit to make cycling safe, it reduces the chance of head injury within a certain range of impact, but it's a false sense of safety if the chance of hitting your head justifies wearing one. Soldiers wear helmets, but that doesn't make war safe for them either.

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I don't want to become emotionally vested in it either way so I allow myself the deliberate choice. The only thing I feel strongly about in this issue is in opposing governments and other groups from taking that choice away.
Or any other pressure on that choice, like 'you should wear a helmet'. Personally I think it's quite rude to interfere in any way with a personal choice like that, if I see someone wearing helmet I'm not saying anything about either, allthough it might be more justified.
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Old 02-14-17, 09:40 AM   #2521
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Just look at the poll. All but about 15% wear helmets all or most of the time. IMO that is a good thing. Even if they only prevent road rash to the head, that is a good thing.
You beat me to it.

A few years back, my girlfriend failed to see a sizable pothole, bam boom she hit it at full speed. To my horror I saw her and the bike go crashing head over heels like a gymnast.....landing oh around 15 feet from the pothole.

Her helmet sustained a big big gash on the side ..... she only had ugly scratches on her arms........

Though I believed she sustained some kind of brain injury as she kinda slowed down stocking our closet with shoes

On the serious note...... her helmet did its job....
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Old 02-14-17, 10:51 AM   #2522
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So not all the time

I don't wear a helmet on my commute, I have fallen off my bike about once every 3000 miles or so and never hit my head. A helmet may mitigate some serious injuries, but for my commute of 3 miles I can live with the risk. If I was that worried about injuries I would have to wear one all the time + a bullet proof vest. Maybe if I was head down in a peloton or MTBing down a rocky path I would reconsider my position.
I don't wear a seat belt in the car because I know someone that was thrown clear of a car accident and landed in a haystack without injury.
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Old 02-14-17, 11:00 AM   #2523
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I don't wear a seat belt in the car because I know someone that was thrown clear of a car accident and landed in a haystack without injury.
Do you bike inside of a steel cage? If so (pics please!), how does your helmet prevent you from being thrown out of that cage in a collision?
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Old 02-14-17, 11:07 AM   #2524
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Do you bike inside of a steel cage? If so (pics please!), how does your helmet prevent you from being thrown out of that cage in a collision?
Was my attempt at sarcasm (we need a sarcasm font). I wear a helmet all the time for any ride just like I wear a seat belt all the time for any length of drive. Helmets are like seat belts - when you need one, you need it badly and there is no way to predict when you will need one.

J.
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Old 02-14-17, 11:57 AM   #2525
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Was my attempt at sarcasm (we need a sarcasm font). I wear a helmet all the time for any ride just like I wear a seat belt all the time for any length of drive. Helmets are like seat belts - when you need one, you need it badly and there is no way to predict when you will need one.

J.
So you missed my point. Seat belts are not at all like helmets. Which scenario would you rather?

1. Driving a car without a seat belt but with a bicycle helmet on your head
2. Riding a bike sans helmet but with the equivalent of a steel cage and seat belt for protection
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